US Open hit by Covid cri­sis as Paire tests pos­i­tive

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Si­mon Briggs TEN­NIS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

A Covid-19 cri­sis erupted on the eve of the US Open as Benoit Paire, the 17th seed, tested pos­i­tive for the virus. Or­gan­is­ers launched a track and trace pro­gramme af­ter fears that the in­fec­tion could spread through­out the tour­na­ment ho­tel.

Paire was said to be “asymp­to­matic” in a US Open state­ment, but the worry is that he could have been spread­ing Covid-19 since his ar­rival in New York on Aug 18. Four days later he with­drew from his first match in the West­ern and South­ern Open cit­ing ill­ness. He has been tested sev­eral times since

and came up neg­a­tive. Kristina Mlade­n­ovic is among the French play­ers spot­ted play­ing cards with Paire, who is a fa­mously so­cial per­son. Two more com­pa­tri­ots – Richard Gas­quet and Adrian Man­nar­ino – were told to con­fine them­selves to their rooms with re­ports Gre­goire Bar­rere, Edouard Roger-Vas­selin and coach Ni­co­las Copin were do­ing like­wise.

The United States Ten­nis Or­gan­i­sa­tion is us­ing track­ing chips im­planted in the play­ers’ ac­cred­i­ta­tion badges to try to work out who has been in con­tact with Paire. “We know it was one of the risks if you test pos­i­tive or if one of your team mem­bers tests pos­i­tive,” said Caro­line Gar­cia, the French No 3. “Of course, it’s very dis­ap­point­ing.”

Jo­hanna Konta, the Bri­tish No 1, said: “I just found out and it was like, ‘Oh wow, re­ally?’ It was al­ways go­ing to take us by sur­prise and be a bit shock­ing and wor­ri­some if a player tested pos­i­tive. It’s not a full bub­ble and there are still some peo­ple work­ing for the tour­na­ment who are com­ing in and out.”

In any normal tour­na­ment, a lucky loser from qual­i­fy­ing would have been called in as a re­place­ment for Paire. But there is no qual­i­fy­ing event at this biose­cure US Open, so the spot has gone to Mar­cel Gra­nollers, from Spain. Paire has been told to self-iso­late in his room.

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